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July 2021 Issue
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Mt Barrosa Summit Track, Hakatere Conservation Park

Approaching the summit of Mt Barrosa and incredible views. Photo: CJ Duncan

Nestled into the golden hills of Hakatere Conservation Park, Mt Barrosa offers a steady climb and rewarding views for trampers who want to make it home by dinnertime. By Ashlyn Oswalt

Set off on the well-maintained DOC trail which passes over private farmland to a small stream which provides the first, albeit easy, obstacle before the leg-burning ascent to Mt Barrosa (1364m) begins. 

After hopping across the stream, a 4WD farm track slowly climbs up the grassy valley in a gradual ascent following the fenceline. 

A short time later, at the base of a spur that marks the ascent, the trail enters Hakatere Conservation Park. The walk itself is only 3.5km, but with over 800m to gain, there’s plenty of huffing and puffing ahead.

From the park boundary, follow the poled route up. It is easy to follow on a clear day, but there are a few sections where the path becomes less obvious, so take care in conditions where visibility is reduced. There are a few spurs that offer stunning vistas but could be dangerous.

About halfway up, the track climbs through jagged boulders which provide a great resting place. Further up, the terrain turns to gravel and steeply ascends, sometimes requiring a scramble on all fours. With a myriad of native plants – both soft and sharp – be sure to take care where you place your hands if you find yourself sliding down.

The blessing in disguise of all these catch-your-breath-breaks is the stunning views that accompany them. From the neat patches of triangular Canterbury farmland nestled into the Ashburton Lakes to braided rivers flowing to the sea, there’s more than just an ascent to take your breath away. The first views of Mt Somers and the Arrowsmiths peeking out from the grassy knolls is enough to stop you in your tracks. 

On the final approach to the summit, the trail follows the fenceline once more and in winter and early spring, it’s likely there will be snow on the ground here. This can get quite deep – up to ankle-deep for this walker who visited in September. 

Trudge onwards to the top, relishing the glory of a summit where walkers can bask in the varying landscapes of Canterbury: sea, farmland, and the Southern Alps fight for viewing space. 

The descent takes about the same time as the ascent, but allow extra time in cold conditions, where the track might be iced over in places.

Mt Barrosa is a must for more than just its views. In a few hours, you’ll have ticked off seven tough kilometres and still have the rest of your day to explore the park.